Last week, the federal government announced that it will “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks) where supported by scientific evidence and warranted.” What’s missing from this announcement is a commitment to provide economic evidence of the impact of such a speedy ban on small businesses.
The plastics ban looks good on paper. Who wouldn’t support it in principle? But in practice, it will take much more than words to make it work. When Raptors’ basketball coach Nick Nurse draws up a play on his clipboard, every player is given a role, and getting everyone in on the action early is paramount.
As part of the team needed to put this policy in play effectively, small businesses have to be part of the discussion. Depending on their trade, business owners will be forced to change their product lines or find alternative products.
No one goes into business to get stuck in red tape, but that’s what inevitably happens. From the get-go, the entrepreneur becomes a prisoner to paperwork, struggling their way through endless excessive, unnecessary and redundant government-imposed rules.
The fuss about red tape is justified for many reasons. Red tape costs businesses time and money that could be better spent on creating jobs and improving competitiveness. Small businesses in the province spend as much as 177 hours and $6,776 per employee every year to comply with regulations from all levels of government.
Last week, small business owners across Ontario breathed a collective sigh of relief after the new Ontario government introduced legislation to stimulate job creation and repeal most of the labour changes in the previous government’s Bill 148.
From Main Streets across Ontario, small business owners have been telling us that the cumulative impact of Bill 148’s tsunamis of significant change – on top of the minimum wage increase – has become too much for small businesses to bear. That it’s burying many businesses in significant added costs and excessive red tape.
Every election, party leaders and candidates like to position themselves as friends of small business, fighting for the little guy or gal on Main Street. It makes for a great photo-op, but with increasing government debt, higher labour and energy costs, and NAFTA uncertainty, it’s imperative that parties back up all their small business talk with plans for real and immediate action if elected.
We recently conducted a survey of our members on the top small business issues for the next government to tackle after the June 7th election. The 3,390 respondents told us that reducing the provincial debt is their number one priority (71 per cent), followed by balancing the budget (68 per cent).
Ontario’s small businesses have been struggling to cope with much more than hasty and hefty minimum wage hikes. Lying in the shadows of these dramatic increases are many other sweeping labour reforms that mean even higher labour costs and more red tape.
The Ontario government has described its labour reform exercise as the biggest overhaul of the province’s labour and employment standards laws in over two decades. Yet, they have failed to adequately educate employers about the exhaustive list of other significant changes beyond the minimum wage. How can a business be expected to comply with what it doesn’t yet know and/or fully understand?